Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Avista modernising electric and gas networks with IoT system

Steve Rogerson
May 17, 2016
Utility Avista is modernising its electric and gas network in Washington state to lay the foundation for smart city applications. Avista provides energy services and electricity to 375,000 customers and natural gas to 335,000 customers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and parts of southern and eastern Oregon.
Avista will deploy the OpenWay Riva IoT system from local company Itron. This delivers interoperability and distributed intelligence over an Itron and Cisco network. The utility plans to use the next-generation product to improve electric and gas operational efficiencies, enhance reliability, reduce energy losses, and enhance customer service and engagement.
OpenWay Riva delivers adaptive communications technology and distributed intelligence to meters, grid devices and sensors at the edge of the network. The platform’s computing power will enable Avista to run multiple applications in edge devices and make near real-time decisions in the field, instead of solely collecting data for billing and back office analysis.
“Avista continually invests in modernising our electric grid, gas network and other systems as we plan for the utility of the future to support technologies of tomorrow,” said Heather Rosentrater, Avista vice president of energy delivery. “We selected Itron for our multi-year advanced metering project because OpenWay Riva can deliver the capabilities we need today and provide the flexibility and foundation for additional applications in the future to meet the evolving expectations and needs of our customers.”
In addition to smart metering, the utility can push various applications to edge devices, including: revenue assurance and theft detection; high impedance detection and other safety diagnostics; outage detection and analysis; transformer load management; demand response; and management of distributed generation at the sub-transformer level. It will also enable Avista to provide more timely information to its customers so they can better manage their energy usage.
Additionally, with open standards, the IoT multipurpose network can be the foundation to run smart city applications, such as smart street lighting or electric vehicle charging.
Adaptive communications technology combines radio frequency, powerline carrier and Wifi on the same chipset to deliver high communications performance with connectivity. The technology intelligently uses the most reliable and fastest communications path and most efficient data rates based on its location, network operating conditions and the type of grid application or data.
“Itron is honoured to be working alongside Avista as it takes the next step in modernising its electric and gas network with OpenWay Riva,” said Mark de Vere White, president of Itron’s electricity business line. “OpenWay Riva features entirely new capabilities in communications and distributed intelligence, and has the power to transform utility operations, delivering new value in distribution system efficiency, reliability and safety. We look forward to bringing these capabilities to Avista.”